This will be the final installment of the story of "just a cat." This final chapter of my mini-series is in recognition of my 100th column in this newspaper. It is fitting, don't you agree?

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
This will be the final installment of the story of "just a cat." This final chapter of my mini-series is in recognition of my 100th column in this newspaper. It is fitting, don't you agree?
8/18/18 - I just received a call from Dr. Tessa Folk at LaVale Veterinary Hospital. First off...no evidence of cancer!
The doctor said that Old Fella's weight has gone from 8.4 to 9.6 lbs in just three weeks! The doctor was very happy with that. His red blood count is almost normal...just where the doctor hoped it would be since he was no longer eaten alive by fleas.
Old Fella's liver levels have increased, however, and the doctor thinks that, because of his infected teeth, this may be keeping his liver levels higher-than-normal. There are no masses showing in his liver, but he seems to have just a little something in the neck of the gallbladder that can be taken care of with medication. Dr. Folk called that a little sludge. Otherwise, the gallbladder looked fine.
She feels Old Fella should do fine on anesthesia, so she will put him under for his beautiful haircut that will remove all of the nasty mattes on his tummy and chest. He will also undergo some major dental work, and most likely he will lose his long, beautiful fangs that were the first things I noticed when I saw his gorgeous man face.
After he wakes up, he will get his rabies vaccination and his indoor shots. My poor Old Fella ~ your outdoor life has come to an end. No more stealing, no more begging, no more scrounging through garbage to find a morsel to eat.
Dr. Folk was not sure if Old Fella would get to come home this evening, especially since his dental work is going to be quite extensive. His rough, neglected life has resulted in some awful infections in his teeth and gums.
But still, he is the most gentle, loving and affectionate little boy. Eighteen years of family, then no family, and then the hard and cold asphalt and concrete life - where he never knew if he would get anything to eat or drink, day to day. God bless those kind folks throughout the years who fed him, and even welcomed him into their homes - where life was good - for at least a moment.
I know my Old Fella remembers love. He remembers the strokes of a human hand. He remembers sleeping at the feet of his captain, his master. He remembers children who petted him and played with him when he was younger - long, long ago. He remembers warm blankets to lay on and cool, fresh water to drink. I believe it...I do.
Well, Old Fella - your life has changed for the better, I promise. There is a whole house at your disposal - windowsills to catch a nap in the sunshine, four grandchildren to love you, cubbies for you to have some private, peaceful time to yourself, all the food you desire, your brother and sister cats and dogs to roam the house with, and heat for your old bones.
You will want for nothing, my old street vagabond. None of that life anymore.
Thanks for your continued prayers and positive thoughts for my Old Fella. Yes, just a cat, I know. But, my cat.
8/20/18 - Surgery completed, and Old Fella did great! The doctor found Old Fella had severe dental disease, and had to have four molar extractions. But, HIS FANGS ARE OKAY!!
My old boy had his customized shave-down, and the doctor was able to shave off all of his matted fur on his tummy and his chest and his sides. She didn't have to touch his big old head, but his whole tail got shaved, except a little poof at the end of the tail.
Old Fella has to remain in the hospital overnight for observation because he had the four major extractions, and before he comes home tomorrow, he will get his rabies shot and his indoor distemper shot.
I am to call in tomorrow morning for an update, and if all is well, he will be coming home tomorrow!
Isn't this wonderful to hear? To hear that an 18-year-old street thug can successfully undergo anesthesia, have major dental work done, and live to tell about it? I think it's a miracle...that's what I think!
And from the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you who contributed to the Old Fella Fund at the hospital. Without your contributions and your generosity, this poor old cat could never have been saved from the streets. If not for all of you, Old Fella would still be living under cars and accepting food from kind strangers.
But the nights. How lonely the nights must have been.
Now, Old Fella...no more of that. Now, you will live the rest of your life with humans who love you. And when the thunder rolls, you won't have to shiver and shudder in a cold, damp corner...waiting out the storm.
No more storms in the night, Old Fella. At least no storms alone, my boy. I will be here to talk to, and you can lie down right beside me. I will take care of you and calm down any fears you have.
Until tomorrow...
8/21/18 - Oh my goodness! Who cares about the rain...today, I celebrate everything that is Old Fella!!
This last month - from his rescue from his concrete jungle on Wempe Drive in Cumberland to his medical services...my emotions have run full course.
When I first receive received a message through Facebook that there was this old cat living on the streets, being fed by kind, neighborly people, I looked up the original post and there was Old Fella!
I named him that from the very start, although my intentions were to get him fully-vetted and then find the perfect home for him so that he could live out his life with people who loved him. When I saw his picture, I thought he looked so grand. Old, yes, but a former magnificent and charming fella. I saw it right away! I saw his face had the most awesome character, and I could see in his eyes that he just wanted a good life.
It didn't matter to me that he had those beautiful long fangs. I thought they were spectacular! And it didn't matter to me that his fur was all matted and he was covered in fleas. It didn't matter to me how scraggly he looked or how skinny and bony he was. I thought just one word: magnificent. I knew he was, and I knew one day soon he would show everyone how beautiful he is.
When I went to the hospital today to bring home my boy, the technician brought him to the room where my grandson Kamden and I were waiting. My first look at my 18 year old cat - with his lion grooming and his poofy tail and big ol' head - I thought WOW! Look how sleek and silvery he looks!! He came right to me - he wasn't mad at all.
I was so worried that he might ignore me at first because I am the one who took him to the hospital for his surgery and his grooming. But he came right over to me, let me pet and stroke his beautiful body, and he came over to my arms and my chest and buried his head as if to say, "thank you, mum." He butted my arms to tell me to scratch his head and rub his ears, and rubbed his body all over mine.
I believe that he knew everything he had been through was for his own good. I believe that he knew I would never do anything to hurt him, and he still trusts me...and loves me.
To love just an old cat. To love a scrawny bag 'o bones, with smelly, stinky breath and rotten teeth. To love a flea-infested, homeless outdoor cat - one used to doing things his own way - and then this woman coming around, putting him in a cat carrier, draggin' him to a strange place, makin' him get shots, take pills, get dental surgery and shave off his ol' filthy coat. Why?????
Why, Old Fella? It's called love and compassion and kindness. Things you will know for the rest of your life.
Thanks to so many people I don't even know, people I have never ever met in my whole life, all of Old Fella's procedures and medications have been covered. People from all over, from many different states, actually, called in donations to the hospital for Old Fella so that he could get the treatments that he needed to start a new life. All combined, there was over $1,600 raised for Old Fella, and I can never, ever thank you all enough.
I said back on July 22 when I first found out about this cat that I wanted to find the perfect home for him, and the truth is, I think I found it. There's no place like home, Old Fella.
I am in the process of writing a book about Old Fella, and Angie Fulton will be providing the illustrations for the book. Perhaps by Christmas, those of you interested in purchasing one of my books can find it on Amazon and Kindle, as well as book stores near you. I will keep you all posted.
Thank you, everyone, for all of your support and encouragement. Old Fella and Mum, and all of the special people in my life - happy home for as long as he shall live.
9/14/18 - O.F. has now been with me here at the Baughman Street White House for almost two months. He has fully settled in to the routine of this busy household - and is fully acquainted with the rest of the zoo.
He just had a follow-up visit to the veterinarian earlier this week and had his liver enzymes re-checked. As it turns out, Old Fella's number is at 306 - the exact same number it was 3 weeks ago. The doctor and I had truly hoped that this number would have come down significantly, but it has not.
The next course of treatment will be for Old Fella to take liver supplements to try to get his ALT number down toward a normal level. I have to pick up the prescription this weekend, and Old Fella - we are back to giving you pills every single day! O.F. does NOT like taking pills one bit. But, we do what we must.
Considering the fact that O.F. is quite the geriatric cat, taking a pill every day is the least we can do to improve his health. And, if that means a little bit of a battle every morning, so be it. I will also be checking to see if there is a certain kind of cat food that he should eat to help his liver.
Other than that, my old boy lives the life of luxury. Three meals a day, snacks, cold water to drink and plenty of ear rubs and head scratchings - his favorite things! He sleeps in a warm bed every night, and I put him to sleep by scratching his head until he tucks his face down into the pillow and tuckers out. It's rather sweet, I won't lie.
Before I end the story of my glorious cat, I have to tell you about a little scare I had yesterday. A Facebook friend of mine sent me a post from a year ago that she shared about a missing cat - with photos attached. Oh, the similarity!! And, the comments below that 2017 post talked about this beautiful, long-haired grey cat who was vocal, affectionate - and that even sighed on occasion while purring! NO!! It can't be!!!
I had to study the pictures. The similarities were uncanny. The cat's fur in the pictures looked a lot lighter than Old Fella's, but he was so dirty and disgusting when I rescued him. After he got his shave down, his fur is silver - just gorgeous! Lots of thoughts were going through my head...I never expected Old Fella to belong to anyone. Through my tears, I continued to look at those two pictures that my friend had sent me. Then it dawned on me. That cat had white whiskers, and my old guy has black whiskers.
I'm sorry that woman never found her cat. I know first-hand how that feels when you lose a pet. On the other hand, I was ecstatic to discover my boy's black whiskers, and relieved that O.F. is still going to live out his days with me and my family.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of my cat's journey. Old Fella has his own Facebook page, by the way, and if any of my readers would like to join the page, just send me a request. I will continue to update the journey as we go along, and share the story of one of the most special cats I have ever had in my lifetime.
God's blessings to all who love the animals around us.